“Shelby sends her love. You might not know it, but she’s been here almost without a rest since they brought you in. But now that they say you’re all right, she’s packing.”
“We’re sneaking up to your place for a few days.”
“Just you and Shelby?”
“Just me and Shelby. Mom is taking the kids.”
“Good for you.”
“Shut up, McKenzie.”
He sat on a chair and crossed his legs.
“I had him, you know. Devanter. I had him. I knew he killed Katherine and Jamie eight hours before you killed him. I had a warrant for his arrest, only I couldn’t find him. I couldn’t find him because apparently he was hiding at your house. Why I didn’t think to look there first I’ll never know.”
“Don’t be bitter,” I told him.
“I didn’t know it was Devanter,” I confessed. “I didn’t have a clue. Not until I saw him hovering over Merci with the knife. Hell, the people I accused were innocent. Innocent of that, anyway.”
“Maybe so, but the way the papers are playing it you’d think you were the greatest thing since Dick Tracy.”
“A very underrated investigator, I might add.”
“You realize, of course, that you look ridiculous with those bandages on your head.”
“I’m starting a new fashion—next week I’ll be on the cover of GQ.”
“It was the twine,” Bobby said. “The twine used to tie down both Katherine and Jamie. Microscopic examination indicated that the lay, circumference, and strand number were identical. So was the reason they each had it—to secure the rose bushes to the trellis on the south side of their houses. They had the same gardener. Devanter. That’s why he knew precisely where the twine was kept. I would have figured it out sooner only I let you distract me with all that Family Boyz nonsense.”
“It really was a coincidence, Jamie’s murder and the Boyz,” I admitted. “You guessed right the first time.”
“I made a lot of mistakes.”
“Why did Devanter do it? Do you know?”
“No, I don’t.”
“He was at the VA—I saw his wounds. Maybe the answer is there. An honest-to-God deranged Viet Nam vet like you see in all the movies.”
“Except Devanter was never in Viet Nam, or the Persian Gulf, or anywhere else for that matter. He never served. He suffered his wounds working on an off-shore oil rig fifteen years ago.”
“But he was a patient at the VA.”
“He was a groundskeeper at the VA. We interviewed his former coworkers, the hospital staff. Apparently, he didn’t have any friends. Everyone who remembered him, and there were only a few, said he was scary, but quiet—a loner, but a good worker.”
“Aren’t they all?”
“We traced his movements. Born in Des Moines. After high school he drifted south, more or less in a straight line, working for a farm co-op in Iowa, a nursery in Missouri, another nursery in Oklahoma, a golf course in Texas, then an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. He was engaged to be married to a woman in Fort Worth, but he called it off just before the wedding and moved here. I spoke to the woman. She said Devanter broke off the engagement when he found out she couldn’t have children, something about a botched abortion when she was sixteen.”
“Was there anything about her that resembled Jamie and Katherine?”
“Not that we could determine. Little over a year ago, Devanter went to work for Warren and Lila Casselman. The Casselmans introduced him to their entrepreneur friends—by the way, did you hear that the feds busted them and the Family Boyz and a couple of Russians …”
“I was there. Front-row seat.”
“Then you know why everything happened the way it did.”
“Pretty much, but we can talk about that later. What about Devanter?”
“The ladies of the Northern Lights Entrepreneur’s Club apparently admired his handiwork. He agreed to help them with their gardens. They paid him for his trouble. That’s all we know and are likely to know.”
“No motive then?”
“Jealousy. Frustration. Obsession. Pick your own.”
“I thought you were the psycho expert.”
“Obsession, then. You were a little obsessed yourself. Why else would you put yourself through all this?”
“I was just doing my job.”
“Job? What job?”
I recalled the mission statement that Kirsten had attributed to me. Live well. Be helpful.
“Uh-huh. Speaking of which, I have a message from Chief Casey of the City of St. Anthony Village Police Department. ‘All sins are forgiven.’ Whatever that means.”
“Are you thinking of getting back into harness, Mac?”
“I honestly don’t know what I’m thinking.”
Bobby didn’t push. Instead he told me I had had another caller while I was unconscious.
That made me smile.
“Nice,” Bobby suggested.
“I like her.”
“She is likable.”
“How do you do it?”
“It’s a gift.”